But this time, Vishwesha Teertha is the principal defendant in the plaint against his follower Vishva Vijaya Teertha, who is now excommunicated and in exile. At the heart of the rift is a six-month tour to the US and Canada that the junior Swami (latter) undertook in 1988 to spread the Madhva philosophy. Vishva Vijaya claimed that he went on the trip after obtaining his senior swamy’s permission. But, on his return, Vishva Vijaya found the other mutt heads extremely critical of his visit because he had ‘crossed the ocean’ (‘sagarolangana’). Vishva Vijaya explained that it was not easy for him to turn his back on everything that had been instilled in him since he took sanyas, forsaking all the worldly pleasures of life and devoting himself to the service of Krishna and Madhvacharya. “It is strange how people and swamijis are carrying on with so much hypocrisy. We claim our (Hindu) culture is greater than all other theories. But, there is so much hypocrisy and double game. I feel disillusioned. It is very disgraceful that these people are living such false lives,” he said in unaccented English.
What Vijaya Teertha wants is a constitution. One that will be a written codification of what a sanyasi can and cannot do, so that the affairs of the mutts are not run on anyone’s whims and fancies. “Go to any mutt. While the sanyasi will be the Mathadhipati, the manager of the mutt will invariably be his relatives. This is not right. There are defects in the system, but there is no ichhashakti (will power) to correct them. Only serious steps will change all this. So, I had to go to the court. In any religion, the law of the land must prevail,” he said.
Unsavoury truths tumbled out during the hearing, including a CD recording of a conversation between Vishva Vijaya and the peethadhipati of the Shirur mutt, in which the latter is heard admitting that some peethadhipatis have fathered children. Local newspapers recently carried advertisements that properties of one of the eight mutts would be auctioned because they had been mortgaged by the peethadhipati, who had consented to stand guarantor to a defaulted borrower.
Possibly in acknowledgement of these murky incidents, Modi's trip to coastal Karnataka did not include a visit to the Krishna temple in Udupi - considered one of the most important temples in Karnataka. Vishwesha Teertha had written to the PM inviting him to the temple. Vidyadheesha Tirtha, Swami of Paryaya Palimar Mutt, said he was disappointed by Modi's decision to not visit the temple, despite visiting Udupi. “I had expectations that he might come. I had invited Mr. Modi and Mr. Siddaramaiah to visit the Sri Krishna Mutt/Temple,” he said.
“Narendra Modi has not met the Pejawar Swami recently and has not even visited the Math. I can say this with authority. Possibly he has some information about the goings on there,” Vijaya Teertha said. Vijaya Teertha makes no bones about his mission- a written constitution that he has already prepared and handed over to the court. “For me this is dharmayudha. Just as Arjuna faced Bhishma and Dronacharya across the battlefield, I, too, am forced to face my guide and mentors in court.” The dispute is having a fall-out within the BJP, with leaders such as Pramod Muthalik seeking the PM's intervention and other BJP leaders preferring to keep quiet on the matter.